Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times has written the story I think everyone knew was going to come out sooner or later: the “now that Yasiel Puig is gone, what did the Dodgers really think of him?” story. And you know what? It’s a good, even-handed story and not the hit job that other, say, more senior columnist types at the Times might have done if they were given the assignment. Thank goodness.
Unlike a lot of past coverage which has sought to cast Puig as some malevolent force in the Dodgers clubhouse, the picture that comes away from this story is that Puig was more of a frustration than a team cancer. Indeed, Dodgers people — players, coaches and managers — generally liked Puig and still like him. They knew and accepted that he is just wired differently than most players, and understood, more or less, why he was wired differently. But they were quite often frustrated by him. Less frustrated on a personal basis than frustrated by his failure to take full advantage of his potential. His failure to take coaching advice, particularly when it comes to defense. His stubbornness and belief in his physical skills and resistance to playing smarter rather than simply playing harder which, on some level, doesn’t always cut it.